News / Asia

Pakistan, Russia Intensify Contacts to Improve Ties

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
— Pakistan and Russia have held high-level discussions focusing on how to expand their political, economic and military relationship.  But analysts believe Afghanistan is at the center of the intensified diplomacy as both countries are positioning themselves in anticipation of expected withdrawal of most U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani traveled to Moscow this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Islamabad.

The high-level exchanges took place just days after President Vladimir Putin cancelled his much anticipated trip to Pakistan, which would have been the first visit by a Russian head of the state.  He was supposed to be in the Pakistani capital this week to attend a summit involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia, which was also postponed.  The cancellation is seen by many as a setback for efforts to improve ties.

However, speaking in Islamabad at the end of their talks Thursday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov both dismissed those suggestions.

“I think the fact that Foreign Minister Lavrov is with us on two-day notice should also be taken as a very positive indication in terms of Russian Federation’s commitment to this relationship,” said Khar.

Timing of warmer relationship

The warming of Islamabad’s ties with Moscow comes amid a persistently strained relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

“We have had a rollercoaster-type relationship with the United States, repeated sanctions against Pakistan, economic sanctions, threats of military sanctions and especially in the last 10 years - this popular anti-U.S. sentiment has grown so much in Pakistan that now I think people of Pakistan would welcome warming up with the Russians,” said Farooq Hameed Khan, a former Pakistani army brigadier.

But many critics are skeptical about recent intensified diplomatic and military exchanges between Pakistan and Russia, in view of a troubled history of bilateral ties.

Pakistan, together with the United States, funded and trained the Afghan Mujahideen who successfully fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  That collaboration has remained a major hurdle in efforts to revive ties between Islamabad and Moscow.

Center of diplomacy

The chairman of Pakistani Senate’s Defense Committee, Mushahid Hussain, says that while the stepped up diplomacy signifies a new beginning in Islamabad’s relations with Moscow, Pakistan, Russia and other regional powers are positioning themselves in anticipation of the expected U.S.-NATO withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan in 2014.

“So in that context, our relationship with Russia assumes a certain importance because in the Cold War and after, we could not revive that relationship," said Hussein. "This also has implications for regional economic cooperation because Russia is sitting on top of important oil and gas reserves.  So the relationship is not just going to be political, it’s also going to be economic.”

While in Islamabad, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also acknowledged that Afghanistan was a major subject of his talks with Pakistani officials.  He stated that both countries share views on how to resolve the Afghan conflict.   

He emphasized that all proposals with the respect to solving the Afghan conflict must emerge from within that country through a national reconciliation process that involves all stakeholders who abide by the country’s constitution and reject violence.

Pakistan’s role is considered crucial to the Afghan reconciliation process because of its past links with some insurgent groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

The United States has acknowledged the key role Islamabad can play in efforts aimed at bringing Afghan insurgents to the negotiating table.  At the same time, U.S. officials have alleged that elements within the Pakistani military still support the militant Haqqani network in carrying out cross-border raids on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid